Caleb thought, “Pain is preferable to the alternative!” He kept the symbols of time and death on the mantel over the fireplace in his bedroom. The anodynes prescibed by the doctors helped, but the pains from his injuries were indissoluble.
The suddenness of his accident still awed him. Although he had heard the older members of his family say many times at a family gathering, “Life changes in the blink of an eye,” he wasn’t swayed to believe that everything in life could be altered so quickly. But he was proven wrong!
One moment, he, a style icon at his job as a Wall Street stockbroker, was walking along Fifth Avenue, admiring his dashing profile in the mirrored windows of some of the most expensive and elegant stores in the world. He had a slight buzz on from the three gin and tonics with limes that he had drank at lunch.
Then, according to the police records, he had fallen into one of the open elevator shafts used to transport goods into the stores. It seemed as if he were falling to the middle of the earth. He could still hear the sound of his screams, in his head.
When he awoke in the hospital, he’d wished for death to pull him away from the atrocious pain. But, the doctors insisted on putting Humpty Dumpty together again, even though he wouldn’t have his life back.
Although confined to a wheelchair and in need of care, he could still enjoy a cool breeze on his face in the summer, look up into the night sky and admire God’s starry masterpiece, and with the help of technology, write bestselling mysteries that featured his protagonist, Simon McGregor, a former debonair Wall Street broker-turned-private detective who, with the assistance of his three nurses, solved the crimes that the New York City police couldn’t resolve.
It isn’t the life he thought he would be living, but it is in one way better. Never would he have pursued his dream of being the next Clive Cussler or Tom Clancy, because the money in global finance was too good to forsake. Indeed, he’d planned to start writing after he’d retired, but it seemed that God, who must have a great sense of humor, had other plans for his life.
The skull reminds him that we all will return to dust some day, and the candle and the hourglass emphasize the finiteness of life. Together they bring to mind for Caleb the quickness to which life can change and the need to be appreciative of every breath, no matter how painful.